Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions now and join Sando on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Hey Mike, I love the blog. The Niners need a shutdown CB. Do you think they would look at Prince Amukamara with the No. 7 pick? Would he still be available? If they didn't get him, are they in the running for Nnamdi Asomugha?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Thanks, Sam. The 49ers' new defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, was with the Houston Texans when they used the 10th overall choice of the 2004 draft for cornerback Dunta Robinson. So, there is some history of a team with a Fangio-led defense targeting an elite cornerback early in a draft. I doubt the 49ers will be locked into taking a cornerback, but if they take one there, it's no surprise -- and there would be some history behind such a move. As for Asomugha, I suspect the Raiders will re-sign him and I see no indication the 49ers would be ahead of other teams in line to sign him. They haven't been a big player in free agency lately.
Adam C (Vermont)
If the lockout looms throughout the Spring, will there be an NFL Draft at all? If not, should those players consider going to the UFL?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
The NFL does plan to go forward with the draft even if there is no labor agreement. That is what we are hearing at this stage. Now, what would happen after a draft? Would players sign with their teams? I really do not know.
Why has no attention been centered around the 49ers acquiring a CB. Do you think it's possible that Clements will move to FS and the 49ers draft Prince or Peterson?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
What is there to focus on right now? The draft is a ways away, the 49ers' new leadership is in the evaluation process and we just do not know how the team will proceed in the draft. As for moving Nate Clements to safety, I've seen no indication the 49ers have ever considered such a move despite frequent suggestions from fans.
Hey Sando, with the 25th pick a lot of people have the Seahawks taking Mallett, Newton or Locker (please no Locker) but assuming Hasselbeck comes back wouldn't you think that a CB, LG or DE be a bigger need? I don't see a franchise QB availible, I think Newton will be gone by 25, Locker isn't worthy of the pick and Mallett as a maybe. Is there a good CB, LG or DE that the Hawks could get here?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Re-signing Matt Hasselbeck shouldn't dramatically affect how the Seahawks proceed regarding a quarterback in the draft. They still need to develop a young quarterback. To do that, they have to acquire one, and to acquire one, they have to trade for one or draft one. And they would be better off acquiring one sooner rather than later, particularly after Hasselbeck finished the 2010 season with his wrist in a cast, his hip keeping him out of the lineup and 17 interceptions. I really do not pretend to know whether any of those quarterbacks will be a great value at No. 25. We cannot know that right now. I would advise the Seahawks to draft a quarterback if the value is close to being right, and then target both lines heavily.
Drew Plommer (Seattle)
Pete Carroll and John Schneider are not scared to make bold moves. Do you think this is a good idea? Trade Lofa Tatupu for a pick. Trade Chris Clemons for a pick. Move Aaron Curry to the Leo. Draft a rush OLB and a big ILB and run a 3-4. Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant at DE, Colin Cole at NT, Curry and make Akeem Ayers at OLB, David Hawthorne and Martez Wilson at ILB. Curry is still a beast. Will Seattle ever unleash Curry and just tell him go get the QB instead of sitting head up against a TE and never rush?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Those are some grand plans. I do not advise making a wholesale philosophical change that might not be the best fit for the coaching staff. The Seahawks are early enough in the building process to target players for the general defensive scheme they run. Within that, there is room for tweaking, and we saw the Seahawks do that last season. But it's tough to become a true 3-4 coach overnight, in my view. You are right about Seattle being unafraid to make bold moves. No one is likely going to acquire Tatupu's $4.35 million salary. I would see Marcus Trufant as another trade candidate, but he has an inflated salary at this stage, too. On Curry, doesn't he have to earn that role? I find it a tough sell thinking the team would just anoint him the Leo and take its chances.
What are the chances of St. Louis winning the west?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Pretty good because they have the quarterback.
With the discouraging reports out of yesterday's labor meeting, if there is a lockout, what can teams do to prepare during the offseason? Will the coaching staffs be allowed to work with the players?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
A lockout would cut off contact between coaches and players. This would present challenges for NFC West teams trying to break in five new coordinators and one new coaching staff.
Mike, Ray Horton has expressed that for his defensive system to work properly the corners need to be good tacklers. DRC might be one of the most gifted DB's athletically, but his apprehension to contact might cause Horton many a sleepless night.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I had that exact same thought. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is not a very willing tackler. He is talented enough to command a spot in the lineup, but he might need to adjust his mentality.
I know there is no player movement right now, but in the abstract, Kyle Orton seems like the perfect gap filler for the 49ers. Do you think a third round pick seems reasonable? Maybe Frank Gore, if he has any trade value? Thank you, I appreciate the work you do with the blog.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Thanks, Ben. I would support that type of move in general, but I'd want to be sure Orton projected to the scheme Jim Harbaugh plans to run. Getting rid of Frank Gore would be tough, though. I don't see Anthony Dixon stepping into the lineup full-time.
Hi, Mike. What do you think the chances of Larry Fitzgerald being traded if he doesn't sign a deal pretty soon, even though he has a no-trade clause, which he could waive to the right team?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
I'm not sure what would be worse for the Cardinals from a perception standpoint: losing Fitzgerald in free agency or trading him away willfully. I'd say the odds of a trade are slim.
People keep saying Steven Jackson is going to be phased out because of Josh McDaniels' hiring, but I think it's more likely that we see a version of Faulk 2.0 this year out of Jackson. Anyone that has watched him play since he first came into the league knows he is an extremely good receiver as well and rusher. If anything, the Rams ran their best last year when the field was spread out and while trying to run off the edge as opposed to up the middle. If he can stay healthy, I think Steven Jackson could have a huge year next year rushing and receiving. The man has had 90 receptions in a season before, and in 2005, when Faulk was still playing, Jackson had more yards receiving the with one less catch. What do you think?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
There's no question it's easy to overreact on this subject. We know the Rams want to run their offense through Sam Bradford. They ran it through him last season, in fact. We know the Rams had little use for traditional fullback Mike Karney even before they released him this week. We should expect to see the Rams transition away from a traditional power running game, but not necessarily away from Jackson. He's too good to leave on the outside of the game plan, and McDaniels has to know this.
Sam (Louisville, KY)
Thanks for the chat Sando. How much pressure is on Donnie Avery to stay healthy and perform this year? If he doesn't, should the Rams look to replace him?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
The pressure is definitely on Donnie Avery, particularly with a new coordinator. He'll need to produce this season.
Chris (Lake Anna, Virginia)
Since the Rams have their quarterback after one year, does that prove that any other NFC West team can have a QB after one year?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
In theory. It's just a lot easier to land that quarterback when picking first overall in the draft.
NIck (New Jersey)
Do you think the Rams should pursue Darren Sproles in free agency this year? He is exactly what we need at running back
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I would have no trouble with that if the price were right. Sproles is 27 years old and coming off a productive season. He hasn't had many touches over the years, so he has taken less punishment than most prominent 27-year-old backs. And he would complement Jackson very nicely.
Explain the current labor mess please?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
People want more money.
Eddie (San Fran)
Mike, love the blog, and the chats. I feel like the 49ers are different from a lot of teams that have needed QBs in the past. They have a defense, an o-line hopefully, a WR, TE, running back. Theyre missing the QB. Usually teams get the QB then the weapons, which I guess is what they did for Alex Smith, but my question is are they one good QB away from being NFC championship contenders?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Yeah, I think one good quarterback could put the 49ers right into the mix, particularly with some sharp coaching on offense. That doesn't mean the 49ers will win playoff games right away simply by upgrading at quarterback. But I do think they have some good young talent on the offensive line, at receiver and at tight end. They had the NFL's youngest starting offense in Week 1 last season.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
I think the most underrated coaching hire this offseason was McDaniels to St. Louis. I'm not a McDaniels fan, but this guy can coach QBs. How much better do you think Sam Bradford will be next year? How aggressively should St.Louis puruse Vincent Jackson to help their WR corps?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
McDaniels should be very well suited to help Sam Bradford take the next step. There are some short-term concerns given the labor situation and having to learn a new system, but if McDaniels could help Kyle Orton become a sometimes prolific passer, imagine what he'll do for Bradford. As for Vincent Jackson, he would help a great deal and I wouldn't have a problem with the Rams signing him, provided they felt reasonably good about his commitment off the field.
Sando, McShay is now on the Kiper bandwagon with the Cards taking Blaine Gabbert. Do you really believe they will go this route? They have to sign a veteran. Could the usually stingy Bidwills pay for a top 10 QB and a veteran starter?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
The Cardinals were paying $5 million a year to veteran Kurt Warner when they selected Matt Leinart with the 10th choice in the 2006 draft. Word did trickle out more recently that the Cardinals didn't want to pay two veteran quarterbacks this past season, but how many teams pay decent money to two starting quarterbacks? If the Cardinals acquire a high-dollar veteran before the draft, they can go in another direction on draft day. But if there is no free agency before the draft or the Cardinals fail to address the position in a significant way, they need to more strongly consider drafting one.
Chuckles (Silverdale Wa)
Dear Mike, as I reflect on your 2010 preseason predictions, I can't help but smirk and chuckle. Please predict an 0-8 start for the Seahawks. Hell we might even host the NFC Champ Game! Keep up the great work. Stay cool.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I did have Seattle starting 0-6 this past season because I thought the Seahawks would be a bad team. They were a bad team most of the time, but they deserve credit for going 4-2 to open the season. That surprised me quite a bit. I never thought they would beat San Diego or Chicago early in the year.
Greg (El Dorado Hills, Calif.)
Hey Mike. At what point do the Seahawks plan to address the O-line. They haven't been able to run the ball since Steve Hutchinson left, and the QBs have been under constant attack as well. No running game for years. Other than draft Okung, there has been no movement here in years.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
They have to make it a top priority this offseason and I expect them to do just that. Using the sixth overall pick for a left tackle qualifies as addressing the line. But that was only a start. The Seahawks absolutely must make the offensive line a top priority this offseason. How could they not?
Pete (Rutland, VT)
Hi Mike. If the 49ers let Aubrayo Franklin go in free agency because the franchise tag would be too expensive, what veteran possibilities will be free agents that could replace him?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I quickly looked at the players listed as defensive tackles from 3-4 defenses and I'm not seeing great candidates jump out. That is something I would frankly need to investigate a little more.
Mike, if you were in charge of the 49ers, how would you address the QB situation? Specific names please.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Kevin Kolb. And then I would say my prayers, hoping he would be the right fit.
Jeff (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Mike, any word on if the Rams are trying to re-do Oshiomogho Atogwe's contract before the big signing bonus is due the end of this month?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I haven't heard anything to this point. Last offseason, the Rams got away with letting him hit the market. I do not recall Atogwe even making a free-agent visit anywhere. There's no way, in my view, the Rams would pay the bonus. They cannot really come out and say the truth, which is that Atogwe is a good player, not a true franchise player. But their actions will say that for them.
Frank Jimenez (El Paso, TX)
Hey Mike, lately there has been much buzz about Jim Harbaugh "looking" at Alex Smith. Do you believe it is in the best interests of both Smith and the 49ers to sign him for at least one more year since Smith will likely be a backup with any other team and the 49ers only have Carr on their roster?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Yeah, it's OK to keep him around one season just to see if he's needed or takes to the offense. But I tend to look at it the way you described it: a matter of convenience.
Do you believe a 7-9 division winner was just a fluke, or could it happen again in another division?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
It's more likely to happen with only four teams in a division. The NFC West had four teams in transition at the same time. A larger division could have four teams in transition without having one of them emerge as the winner. For example, in 2001, the year before realignment, four teams from the old AFC Central division finished with losing records. Two other AFC Central teams had winning records.
Jeff (Oakland, CA)
Mike, do you see Nate Clements on the roster for 2011? Is Spencer good enough to hold down the No. 1 spot?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Nate Clements will not be on the roster at his current scheduled salary. I think there's a good chance he sees what the market holds and winds up someplace else. As for Spencer, he is good enough to start, but not good enough to make a team stop looking for an upgrade.
Take Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers, both coming out of college, and put them on the 2007 Patriots, which one does better?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Aaron Rodgers. At least we know he can play at a high level. We do not know whether Alex Smith can play at a high level. We just know he has not.
Mike, your thoughts, a lot of NFL players are complaining that they do not want an 18 game season, they say they would need more money to play 2 more games. The NHL play an 82 game season, hockey is just as physical plus they run the risk of getting hit in the face with a puck. A player can max out at 10 million and the team cap is 59.4 million. Are football players too soft?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Hockey is just as physical? Have you seen the size of these NFL players? I recently flew on the same plane with a semi-pro hockey team. It took me a while to figure out what sport they played. None of them looked remotely big enough to play linebacker in the NFL, let alone defensive tackle, although I'm sure they could have skated circles around Casey Hampton.
Hey Mike, how can owners franchise tag players for 2011 when there's no CBA? Can we put any stock in these announcements?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
The tag still exists as long as the CBA exists, but it looks like a moot point to me. Sure, go ahead and name franchise players, but the effect will be nil, in appears, without an agreement. I'd like to look into this one a little more.
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. My pleasure, as always.